Coaching Children Literature Review

Millions of children and young people take part in sport and physical activity across Europe every day. However, the majority of their coaches are either not qualified or hold lower level generic qualifications that do not prepare them specifically to work with this age-group.

ICOACHKIDS (ICK) is an international, collaborative, multi-agency, Erasmus+ co-funded project aiming to support the development of a Specialist Children and Youth Coaching Workforce across the EU to ensure all youth sport participants have a positive experience led by suitably trained coaches.

This literature review is a central piece of ICK. It aims to provide the necessary evidence to aid the development of a European Coaching Children Curriculum (ECCC) to guide those developing training opportunities for coaches of children and young people in the European Union and beyond. In the context of ICK, the literature review and the ECCC will inform the development of the three Massive Open Online Courses that will be the final outputs of the project.

From the multiple options available, the expert group opted to conduct a ‘theory-led’ literature review. This type of review focuses on identifying key elements of the field or topic in question that have contributed to forming the currently accepted general viewpoint (i.e., the espoused theories as to how children’s sport should happen) and interrogating the literature to ascertain their value or refute them.

The ICK team opted to base the current review on the generally accepted developmental view of children’s sport presented in literature, programmes and policy documents from North America and Europe. Examples of this perspective can be found in the International Sport Coaching Framework (ISCF; ICCE, ASOIF & LBU, 2013), the European Sport Coaching Framework (ESCF; Lara-Bercial et al., 2017) or UNICEF’s sport policies (2017). This view of children and youth sport emphasises:


• A holistic approach to child development

• Wide access and participation

• Developmentally appropriate opportunities to train, play and compete

The results of the review tend to corroborate the overall philosophy and values espoused by the ICK team, and the fundamental principles identified in development of a theory of children’s coaching. Notwithstanding this, the review also found that much work is yet to be done to gather conclusive evidence in various areas. These include:

  • • Identifying the personal and social developmental outcomes naturally occurring from sport participation and the conditions that lead to them

  • • Developing more naturalistic approaches to research in the area of skill acquisition

  • • Exploring the synergies between different pedagogical approaches to skill acquisition based on personal stage of development and the nature of the skill in question

Nonetheless, in light of the findings of the review, the ICK expert group have developed the ICK Pledge which includes 10 Golden Rules for Coaching Children that coaches and sport clubs should adhere to in order to guarantee positive experiences.

You can download the full literature review below


ICOACHKIDS Literature Review Web Version FINAL Dec 2017


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